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SEPA Report: Utility Managed Charging Programs - Turning EVs into Grid Assets

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With estimates of more than 20 million electric vehicles (EVs) expected on the road in the U.S. by 2030, a new report from the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) explores the current managed charging landscape and highlights the important role of utilities in furthering the intelligent integration of EVs and the grid.

EVs represent the most significant new electric load opportunity for utilities since the rise of air conditioning in the 1950s. However, if improperly integrated into today’s dynamic electricity grid, the rise in EVs could lead to grid constraints and increased transmission and distribution peaks that prompt the construction of more peaker plants, unplanned grid upgrades, and other costly solutions. “A Comprehensive Guide to Electric Vehicle Managed Charging,” provides a snapshot of the current EV industry and what is needed to ensure managed charging will be a viable demand response strategy in the future.

“Managed EV charging can be a powerful tool to better align and balance a power supply that is increasingly diverse, decentralized, renewable and intermittent with flexible demand,” said Erika Myers, SEPA’s Principal of Transportation Electrification. “Utilities are uniquely positioned to take critical proactive steps now before EV adoption rates accelerate, laying the groundwork to optimize policies, regulations, standards and protocols for the future so that EVs can be valuable grid assets.”

Although there is broad industry consensus on the potential of managed charging in the U.S., stakeholders have not converged around a common managed charging open protocol or set of protocols.

“EVs can drive grid benefits and minimize impacts only if charging is managed,” said Chris King, Chief Policy Officer at Siemens. “Open technical standards are foundational for managed charging to enable interoperability and seamless data exchanges with utilities and market participants.”

“Without swift action to resolve the outstanding business, policy, and technological barriers for managed charging, we may look back in a decade and wonder what went wrong,” continued Myers. “Just as we now have a million distributed residential solar systems without advanced inverters due to the long lag time in the development of standards, we could see millions of EVs on the road without any kind of managed charging functionality.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • The industry is moving in the right direction. The total percentage of EV supply equipment (EVSE) manufacturers with managed charging-capable equipment has increased to 63% from 33% in 2017. Further, the number of Network Service Providers that provide managed charging platforms has increased more than three-fold since 2017.
  • Utilities are already evaluating managed charging. SEPA identified 38 utility-run managed charging pilot and demonstration projects to date.  
  • EVSE manufacturers are responding to the market. Of the managed charging-capable EVSE identified, the majority were Level 2 chargers (63%), followed by DC Fast Chargers for light-duty vehicles (24%).
  • According to SEPA’s annual utility demand response survey, the number of utilities interested in managed charging has increased for the third year in a row. Other survey findings include:
    • The majority of utilities are interested in load control through the charging infrastructure over automaker telematics, which aligns with the types of utility-run managed charging projects to date.
    • The vast majority of surveyed utilities are interested in managed charging in residential applications.
    • Utilities primarily plan to use managed charging to avoid higher cost periods of energy supply, help customers manage use, and increase customer engagement.
  • The report proposes a new valuation framework for Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) that is based on seven key dimensions to help define VGI use cases and the corresponding  value and the market-readiness of different projects.

To help utilities and industry stakeholders navigate these complex issues, SEPA has recently launched a Transportation Electrification program to conduct first-in-class research and bring together stakeholders to find enduring solutions. SEPA is working at the forefront to bring utilities, regulators, automotive sector representatives, charging infrastructure providers, and other stakeholders together to discuss and find solutions to these emerging challenges.

“PG&E is committed to accelerating the adoption of clean, electric vehicles in California. As more EVs hit the road, their effective integration into the grid becomes increasingly important to ensure both grid reliability and customer satisfaction,” said Karim Farhat – Expert Product Manager, Vehicle Grid Integration at PG&E. “We see managed EV charging as a very promising concept, one that spans a wide range of solutions, technologies, assets, and players. If implemented wisely and collaboratively, managed charging can help realize several benefits, including reducing driver and ratepayer costs, improving grid infrastructure utilization, and integrating more renewables.”

“Electric transportation is about a better energy future for everyone, and for utilities to better serve all customers – whether they are driving electric or not, said Rendall Farley, Manager of Electric Transportation at Avista Corp. “Managing new EV charging loads at scale, shifting them from on-peak to off-peak times, will be one of those key opportunities.”

“A Comprehensive Guide to Electric Vehicle Managed Charging” is available for free download here. Primary data collected for the report will be available to SEPA members.

For more information about SEPA’s Transportation Electrification pathway, including the electric vehicles 350+ member working group, click here.

 

Erika Myers's picture

Thank Erika for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 9, 2019

"SEPA identified 38 utility-run managed charging pilot and demonstration projects to date"

This in particular is great to see-- how similar/different do each of these pilot programs look? Are they somewhat homogenous or are there utilities that are pushing the envelope and affecting change in creative and unexpected ways when compared with the others?

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